We sat down in the restaurant and had some food while warming our toes up and drying our socks. Cory had been in touch with Ed via email, wondering how and where we were, and said that he’d be in Teslin for work tomorrow (his main job was at NWTel, a communications company). We both agreed that it’d be great to see him, but no offence to the residents of Teslin it wasn’t the kind of place we could hang around and kill time. There was little to do and a cap on Wi-Fi, which meant Ed would be bored out of his brains in no time. Once our toes had defrosted, we decided to do some more miles; we’d only done about thirty miles which was pretty pathetic even by our standards. We could have camped there but it was $15, and I wasn’t willing to part with my cash on this occasion. We rode out of town and over a bridge, and soon came across a closed RV park. It looked like a good spot until we spotted a few too many animal tracks in the snow, which if I’m honest kind of put us off. Especially when we couldn’t work out what had left the big ones with claws…
We subsequently decided to find somewhere else. Ed rode up the track and I went to follow, however I went a little too heavy on the throttle, span round and decked it. It had been a while since I’d dropped the bike, so it was overdue. We went quite a few miles further when I discovered a clearing behind some trees, which appeared just in time as the water on the road suddenly froze. I tried to stop but ended up sailing past Ed, before coming to a rear end sliding stop; it would’ve looked quite cool if I’d meant to do it. We went back to check it out and it looked like it’d do the job, despite there being lots of animal tracks there too; it was getting dark and the roads were icy, being fussy was no longer an option.
Ed did however discover that most of the tracks were left by rabbits, as he spotted a fluffy white one bouncing in to the trees. We put the tent up and another pole snapped; really?! I’d lost count of the amount of times a pole had snapped or cracked, and it was becoming a running joke now. The sad thing was we actually really loved our tent, and it was falling apart before our eyes. We managed to bodge fix it with Duck Tape though and set to work trying to get pegs in to solid ground.
We or I should probably say I, had decided that each day we would try and leave earlier than the day before, thus the alarm went off at 8am. I woke to discover that the hood of my sleeping bag was covered in ice, as was the full length of it, the inside of the tent was covered in ‘snow’ and I’d obviously been pressing myself up against it every time I tossed and turned. It was still quite dark so I decided to have a little lie-in, and Ed was more than happy to do the same. Going from a warm thing to a cold thing isn’t exactly motivating, but by 9am I was getting hungry and I needed a wee; it was time to get up. I hate it when your hair or back touches a wet tent, and every move saw me covered in ‘snow’.
Luckily I’d been a bit forward thinking and kept my fleece warm in my sleeping bag, so I put that on and opened the inner zip and got blasted with icy air. We’d stashed all our stuff on the other side of the clearing, and it soon became apparent that it was up to me to retrieve it, as Ed was still in bed. I melted some snow for tea then lured Ed out of his pit with a hot cuppa and a smokie and cheese roll, which he happily tucking in to outside the tent.
While he was eating that and I was making one for myself, a vehicle drove past and stopped. It then reversed back to exactly where the track was. Bit of a coincidence? I asked out of the tent if someone was coming and Ed said ‘Yep… it’s Cory!’ ‘You lazy f*ckers!’ Cory said, as he walked over. It made me laugh, it was so good to see him. He’d been driving to his job and had seen our tracks (well my tracks, Ed had been clever and hidden his) and had brought some cakes for us! The highest calorie ones he could find to keep us warm. What a legend.
We chatted for a short while then he said he’d drop back in on his way back, as he had no doubt we’d still be there; after such a short time he knew us so well. I made Ed another sandwich and had one of our treats, before finally packing our stuff up. My sleeping bag was frozen, my Exped was frozen, the tent was frozen, and worst of all my boots were frozen. I had to peel them off the tent floor. When your toes are already cold, the last thing you want to do is to put them in to something even colder, but we didn’t have a choice. Cory came back as we were rolling up the tent and we chatted a bit more. He kindly offered us the use of his truck to warm ourselves up, but we declined his offer as we were concerned that we wouldn’t want to get out! It’d been great to see him and in true Cory style he continued to be awesome, by giving us an axe so we could chop up wood and make fires to keep warm. What a star. We thanked him and said goodbye once more, but knew it wouldn’t be the last time. We hoped and were sure that we’d see him again, at some point in the future. We just didn’t know where…
All packed up it was time to leave, at 1.43pm; two minutes earlier than the day before. Ha! We hadn’t been riding long before the sun started to thaw my boots and I could finally feel my toes. I’m pleased I enjoyed that moment as much as I did, as it didn’t last long. The road alternated between clear, icy, snowy and grit, and it was hard to tell what was ice and what wasn’t. A quick foot down soon answered that, and I rode on the shoulder in the shallow snow for the most part, it saved moving around at least. But soon the snow was too deep with icy lumps, so I got forced back on to the road.
We carefully navigated the icy road, looking for spots that might provide traction, all the time making minor adjustments to keep our balance. At least going slower meant less wind-chill; Every cloud has a silver lining. Everyone waved as they drove past, and trucks gave us a toot and a nice wide berth. I tend to go slow and pull over when traffic passes, regardless of their direction, as I don’t really fancy getting run over; there are better ways to go. The beauty of a 90 is that when it does go wrong, it happens in slow motion, so you just gently let off the throttle and it usually snaps back in. I also tend to ride in a low gear, so when I let off the throttle I instantly have some engine braking. You daren’t touch the brakes on ice. I tried the rear brake once or twice and it just resulted in the back end sliding out and I continued at the same speed just sideways; not quite what I was trying to achieve. Luckily my front brake always freezes, otherwise I’d end up panicking and use that. That would definitely end in tears. It reminds me of when Ed and I went to the Elephant Rally in Germany at the end of January. I’d never ridden on ice before and Ed was explaining to me what to do. I was unfortunately not very good at listening at the time, and I remember him saying something about never using the back brake and only using the front brake. I was therefore rather concerned when I came down an icy hill to find that the front brake was frozen. I was forced to use the rear brake and was mighty pleased when it didn’t go awry. ‘Phew!’ I thought. Once at the bottom of the hill I proceeded to tell Ed that the front brake was frozen and that it needed sorting out. He then said ‘I can but you don’t need the front brake anyway, you should never use the front brake on ice. I haven’t used mine for the last few hundred miles’. ‘Oh’.
I’d been doing alright in terms of being warm but then the wind picked up and the cold started to set it. My hands were OK thanks to heated grips, and my core and bum were OK thanks to ‘holiday weight’, but my feet were cold, and I mean really cold. We hadn’t got any winter boots yet and were just riding with plain leather motorcycle boots, which have absolutely no insulation.
I got excited when I saw a blue sign in the distance which normally means services, but was soon disappointed when I realised it was just a rest area. We continued on and a few miles later I saw another blue sign hidden behind a tree. ‘Is that services?? YES!! It’s services… aaaand it’s CLOSED.’ Bollocks. This happened at least two more times, and each time my spirits were raised higher and crushed lower. I was desperate to stop to warm my feet, they felt dangerously cold and all I could think about was frostbite. I didn’t want to be the idiot on a motorcycle in winter that got frostbite, and although they’re not the prettiest of toes I’m really rather fond of them, ideally attached to my feet. I didn’t know when the next open services would be and made the decision to stop and try and warm them. Better safe than sorry. Ed helped me warm them slowly on the exhaust, which would have seemed crazy if it weren’t for the fact that it was so cold that the exhaust wasn’t very hot. It was however enough to bring them back to life a little, along with a bit of friction rubbing. They weren’t great but I could at least feel that I had individual toes instead of one solid numb lump. We then managed to boot Ed’s phone up long enough to discover that there were more services in about seven miles or so; if they were open was another question. I was praying that they were. I couldn’t wait to get somewhere warm. We continued on for the seven miles when there in the distance was the blue services sign, and no ‘CLOSED’ below it. I breathed a sigh of relief but wasn’t completely relieved, wondering if they’d forgotten to put the closed sign up. We pulled in and there it was the confirmation I so wanted and needed; the glowing open sign. I don’t think I’ve ever been that happy to see an open sign. In fact I know I’ve never been that happy to see an open sign. I literally jumped for joy! I was ecstatic.
We parked up and went inside, where we were greeted by the owner Linda and a truck driver called Steve. They were surprised, amazed and sympathetic; oh and absolutely lovely. Linda went off to the kitchen to cook some orders and we got chatting to Steve. He lived in Edmonton but often did the route, and said whenever his wife comes with him she always insists on stopping at the hot springs; something we should definitely do. We chatted for a while and got on to winter, and how he was looking forward to his holiday in Florida to get some sun and warmth. He had a few more miles to do that day so we said goodbye and he went on his way. A few minutes later he came back in and said, ‘Are you staying here? I want to pay for your room’. Really?! It was so sweet and kind of him we couldn’t believe it, we were really taken aback. He insisted and said it was no problem, he thought what we were doing was awesome and that he thought we could do with a nice bed and shower. It was so thoughtful and generous of him we couldn’t thank him enough.The guy who worked there then came over to the till and Steve said he wanted to buy us a room, to which the guy replied ‘We’re already giving them one, Linda already decided’. What?! We couldn’t believe it again, it was amazing. We thanked Steve again as it was the thought that counted, regardless of whether he paid for it or not, he’d had the heart to think about it and offer; that’s what counted. And it was better that it worked out the way that it did, as it saved him some money that he could spend on his holiday, which he definitely deserved. He wished us well and went on his way, but not before getting a photo of him to add to our list of awesome people.
We then thanked Linda who also said it was no problem, and the guy who we discovered was named Kyle, kindly showed us to our room. It had a proper bed, a heater, and hot water; what more could we want! It beat our cold tent hands down. We went back in to the restaurant and decided to treat ourselves to dinner. We were famished and it was only right that we spent something there. We both had awesome burgers and fries, then as we were deciding whether to have pudding or not Linda brought us out some delicious butter tarts, they were so good. We got chatting to her and she was telling us about all the unique and interesting people that had come through. ‘There was this guy walking across Canada, he stayed here a few days, I gave him a room’. ‘And there was this guy cycling through, yeah, I gave him a room’. ‘And there was this couple on a tandem, I gave them a room too’. We laughed and Ed said, ‘I can see a theme here!’ She was amazing and had been rescuing travellers since 2002. Well that’s when she’d owned the place from so I’m assuming she was awesome from the start. We finished up and I went to pay, and just as I went to hand over my card she said ‘ That’s ok, it’s on the house’. Once again: Amazing. It was so kind and generous of her; we never expected a room let alone free food! She went back in to the kitchen and we went to take a photo of her and to say thank you again, and she smiled and said ‘No worries, make sure you come in for some breakfast too!’ What a star. When you’re on the road you really appreciate stuff like that; a hot meal, a warm comfortable bed, a hot shower, all things you normally take for granted at home.
We went back to our room and I discovered much to my delight that it had a bath; I hadn’t had a bath since we’d been away! (I would like to point out that I have had numerous showers). So after Ed had a shower I had a nice hot soak in the bath, and got Ed to read some of Graham Field’s awesome book ‘In Search Of Greener Grass’ to me. What a lovely half hour that was; we really landed on our frozen feet, now thankfully thawed.